Multicultural Education Programs, housed in the School of Education & Human Development at the University of Southern Maine, connects public schools in Maine and the community in ways that are responsive, visible, and vital in the support of a minority teacher cadre that is fully qualified and culturally competent. Teachers of color, from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds can do much to help students bridge home-school cultural differences, thereby ensuring the success of a greater proportion of our student populations (Moll, Amanti, Nett, & Gonzalez, 1992). The need to have teachers who reflect the diversity of the student population has resulted in the creation of the Newcomer Extended Teacher Education Program (Newcomer ETEP). In eight years, fully funded through external sources, Newcomer ETEP has become a highly-valued teacher preparation program for Portland’s ever increasing population of people of color. Through this program participants have become leaders in their cultural communities, serving as role models and resources for others seeking success and/or careers in education.
Newcomer ETEP is a two-year teacher preparation program designed to give students of color the necessary study and experience to acclimate to the American school system, in order to facilitate their success in becoming certified teachers in Maine. Addressing needs specific to this population, which include needs for English language enhancement, mentoring and financial aid, are an integral part of the program. Coursework and school-based teaching placements are delivered in the following sequence and format.
To date, Newcomer ETEP has recruited over 30 potential teacher candidates of color, of whom 10 have completed the program and become certified. Seven obtained teaching positions and all continue to teach five years later. There are now four students of color in year 1 who intend to complete year 2 during 2010 – 2011.
Multicultural Education Programs works primarily with the diverse communities represented by English Language Learners (ELLs) in the Portland Public Schools. Of a total enrollment of 6,960 students in 2008-09, 26% were ELLs. Many of these students are children of immigrant and refugees families, either second generation or newly arrived. These families come from various countries all over the world, including Afghanistan, Cambodia, El Salvador, Iraq, Serbia, Somalia, Sudan, and Vietnam. As a group they speak more than 50 different languages.
Of the 15 Newcomer ETEP participants to date, 14 have been persons of color (93%). Many of the immigrants arrived with higher education degrees and experience from their home countries. Some were teachers in fields for which there is great need in American schools (mathematics, science, foreign languages and special education). Yet, due to language barriers and certification requirements, most of these individuals have needed support to integrate into the American education system and pursue a career in education in Maine.
Newcomer ETEP Participants and Countries of Origin (2009-2011)
Currently in Year 1
Currently in Year 2
Completed and Certified
Newcomer ETEP is guided by a Steering Committee which is made up of university faculty and administrators, school district teachers, and representatives of the ethnic communities that have had participants in Newcomer ETEP. Long-standing members are from Indonesia, Somalia, Nigeria, Japan and the Philippines. This group of individuals meets on a monthly basis to advise and help create programs and leadership opportunities that are culturally responsive, respectful, and vital in the recruitment and retention of people of color in the teaching profession.
Through the Cultural and Educational Leadership Project for Future Teachers of Color we propose to significantly enhance the support available to participants in Newcomer ETEP through the addition of peer coaching and leadership development components to the program. The need for increased support has become clear through interactions with participants and the observations by supervisors. This project will have three objectives: 1) to more effectively assess the cultural and educational needs of participants; 2) to design and implement a pilot project to address these needs through peer coaching and leadership roles assumed by current and past participants; and 3) to evaluate the effectiveness of the new support strategies and present the findings to USM’s teacher education faculty in order to create a sustainable approach to support for future Newcomer ETEP participants and educate all ETEP participants on the needs of students and teachers of color.
To achieve these objectives, the following activities will be undertaken:
1) Needs Assessment
a. A variety of survey tools will be developed to gather information that is
both observational and reflective.
b. Needs assessment will be on-going throughout the project.
2) Peer Coaching and Leadership
a. A peer coaching model will be developed and implemented, with a
former Newcomer ETEP participant and current teacher of color serving
as coach for students entering years 1 and 2.
b. Cohort orientation sessions will be developed and delivered by the peer
coach prior to the start of years 1 and 2.
c. A community leadership model will be developed and implemented, with
a current Newcomer ETEP participant mentoring students of color in the
Portland Schools to encourage an interest in higher education and
possible careers in education.
3) Evaluation and Sustainability
a. Throughout the project the effectiveness will be evaluated, with
adjustments made along the way to increase the impact of the supports
b. Project staff will compile a report for presentation to the whole teacher
education faculty, with the aims of permanently incorporating the new
level of support into the overall project and better informing faculty and
participants about the needs of and realities faced by students and
teachers of color.
Assistance by the People of Color Fund will provide stipends for the peer coach, participant leader/mentor, and project coordinator, as well as any travel expenses related to project activities and tuition support for the student leader/mentor.
In Portland the teaching force, as in many communities, is primarily Caucasian. There are proportionally many more students of color than there are educators of color. Of great concern is the fact that the gap between the groups appears to be widening. Programs designed to put more teachers of color in classrooms, such as Newcomer ETEP, can encourage students of color to aspire to become teachers themselves. Teachers of color will also serve as mentors and role-models to all of their students, those of color and not, to encourage them to pursue advanced levels of education and achievement. The role of participant leader/mentor in this project is designed to provide face-to-face contact for younger students of color with a member of their “community of color” to serve as an inspiration for heightened educational aspirations.
Graduates of Newcomer ETEP are viewed as teachers who excel in the field of teaching and become leaders in the profession. These teachers of color serve to advise, counsel, and address the barriers faced within their own teaching communities. They often become community advocates and spokespeople who help to educate a school where the majority of teachers are Caucasian, and clearly have much to offer the communities in which teachers and students live, learn, and work. To prepare our students to be global citizens they need to learn from teachers who represent the global diversity of culture and language (Rueda & DeNeve, 2009).
Multicultural Education Program’s Newcomer ETEP receives funding from the Maine State Department of Education as a reflection of their commitment to the recruitment and retention of diverse populations, in order to decrease the disproportionality of the racial/ethnic representation of teachers in Maine schools. For the past eight years, Newcomer ETEP and Portland Public Schools’ Multilingual and Multicultural Program have worked closely to recruit and retain people of color from the community who wish to become teachers and who may have been teachers in their countries of origin. Newcomer ETEP students most often are placed in Portland schools and work alongside and learn from exemplary mentor teachers. Teacher Education faculty within USM’s School of Education and Human Development work closely with Multicultural Education Programs staff to assist Newcomer ETEP students as they learn to navigate and understand the rigors of this graduate program. Teacher Education faculty help our students of color link their course and school-based experiences to a core set of teaching standards in their preparation to become certified as Maine teachers.
Multicultural Education Programs will continue to seek funding opportunities and apply for grants and scholarships that will provide for the on-going services associated with Newcomer ETEP. External funding is necessary to assist aspiring candidates with tuition, resources, and supports that will enable them to enter the teaching profession and, thereby, increase the number of teachers of color in Maine schools. Financial support through the People of Color Fund will have far-reaching effects and long-lasting impact for future teachers of color. It will assist one individual with tuition support necessary to complete their program of study and become a teacher and educational leader within their own ethnic community and the wider “community of color.” This project will promote equity, diversity, and inclusion of people of color as future educators in Maine as they develop and refine their leadership abilities, knowledge and tools of the teaching trade, and their skills during the course of the project period.
Evaluation will be an integral component of program operations and will provide essential data to determine the quality of outcomes, the progress of participants, areas that require attention and review, and whether project objectives are being met. The evaluation will also serve as a tool for strategic planning by informing project stakeholders on the larger impacts and issues resulting from the project. Information of an informal and on-going nature will be collected from current and past Newcomer ETEP participants in the form of focus groups, interviews, and survey tools created to meet the goal of the Cultural and Educational Leadership Project for Future Teachers of Color. Anecdotal evidence and Newcomer ETEP student journal entries will be used to assess participants’ perceptions of the coursework, school-based placements/ internships, supervision, mentorships and student supports, and will provide insight into the students’ of color experience and preparation as Newcomer ETEP participants.